It took Tobi Wilkinson nine years of working with the Gyuto Monks to capture the slice of life within the monastery, and depict what is as much a state of mind as it is an architectural fact. Even though Tobi Wilkinson was an outsider, both as a westerner and a woman, she has been able to immerse herself with "fresh eyes" into their world and see past the robes, the shaved heads and the smiling faces of the Monks.
The photographer renders her fascination for those human beings who embark on a spiritual journey and her photographs illustrate how long, intense and difficult learning is. Their Order was founded in 1475 and is one of the main tantric colleges of the Gelug tradition. The life of a Monk is not just one of sitting, chanting and meditating. It's repetitive, it's monotonous and that in itself is as much a part of their spiritual practice as the esoteric nature of the studies that they undertake.
Guyto is a collection of pictures that are full of compassion, grace and poetry, showing the contradiction of the impermanence of life against the continuity of tradition - an unbroken one of 600 years. “When I first laid my eyes on Tobi’s work, I instantly got swiped away by the profound elegance of her look. Tobi’s dedication to this project appears in every single image and I found it perfectly in tune with the Monks’ way of life. For this first ‘Matters that matter’ exhibition, I wanted to put forward an important theme that anyone can relate to. Dedication, as one of the keys of life, certainly is a matter that matters!“, Thierry Bigaignon explains.
Tobi Wilkinson has been photographing for the last 15 years. For the best part of the last decade, she has been working with Tibetan monks both in their monastery in India and in her studio in Sydney. Tobi Wilkinson has been exhibiting in group and solo shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Florence since 2010. The photographs of the “Gyuto” series are gathered in a book, with a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which will be presented during the opening.